I Samuel 2:22-36 Prophecy Against Eli’s House.

I Samuel 2:22-36 Prophecy Against Eli’s House.

Not only did Eli’s sons despise the sacrifice, breaking the law and sinning against both the LORD and the people, but they also debased themselves and the women who they would lay with, “who assembled at the door of the tabernacle of meeting” (v. 22). They took the women who were set apart to serve the LORD at the door of the tabernacle (Ex. 38:8), and made them into prostitutes. These were women who offered their mirrors of narcissistic pride, their permanent selfies, to be melted down for the service of the LORD, content to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD’s holiness, rather than to be consumed with their own looks.

However, the most that Eli did was to question and rebuke them (v. 23), even though he knew he was causing “the LORD’s people to transgress” (v. 24). Eli made the valid point that if one sins against another human being, then God will judge. “But if a man sins against the LORD, who will intercede for him?” (v. 25a). Then we find the very sobering words concerning God’s sovereign predestinating will with regard to the reprobate. “Nevertheless they did not heed the voice of their father, because the LORD desired to kill them.” (v. 25b). Eli showed partiality in judgment, also contrary to the law (Dt. 1:17 Cf. 25:1-2; Nu. 15:30-31).

Unless the LORD desires a person to heed his word, all will die in sin. Such was the case with Samuel. It was because the covenant making and covenant keeping LORD desired Samuel to heed his voice that “the child Samuel grew in stature, and in favor both with the LORD and men.” (v. 26). Such is the state of one who does not forget the law of the LORD (Pr. 3:1-4). Eli could not claim that the LORD’s revelation was not given (v. 27 Cf. Ex. 4:14-16; 12:1ff.). It was the LORD who chose his father to serve (v. 28 Cf. Ex. 28:1, 4), and the LORD provided for them Nu. 5:9). To wear the ephod was to stand as the covenantal mediator of the people.

Eli’s sons saw the ministry as an opportunity to literally eat the fat of the land, and fulfill their every wanton desire, and in failing to discipline them, Eli honoured his sons more than the LORD (v. 29). How often failed leadership is the result of failed parenting. Therefore, already at this early point in their history, the LORD decided that the ministry would not simply rest in one family, but rather all who honoured him he would give the honour to serve (v. 30). The house of Aaron would be covenantally cut off, and despite all the good which God did for Israel, they would not live long on the earth (vv. 30-32).

Those who were not cut off from the altar would be nothing more than a source of grief (v. 33). A sure sign that these things would come to pass, would be the soon death of his sons – Hophni and Phinehas (v. 34). There then appears one of the great messianic verses in all of scripture. The Aaronic order would give way to one in which the LORD God would have a faithful priest who would do according to what was in his heart and mind, and he would build him a house (v. 35 Cf. I Kgs 2:35; Beyond Zadok, the Messiah would come (Heb. 3:1-6). In this house people are glad for any opportunity to serve (v. 36).

I Samuel 2:18-21 Samuel Is Clothed For Ministry.

I Samuel 2:18-21 Samuel Is Clothed For Ministry.

As soon as Samuel was weaned he ministered before the LORD, and he did so “wearing a linen ephod” (v. 18 Cf. 2:11; 3:1). The ephod was part of the garments wore by the priesthood, as prescribed by the law (Ex. 28:4-14), so also was the robe (v. 19 Ex. 28:31). The robe was to be all blue, which was symbolic for the word. We are not told whether the robe made by Hannah each year was made of blue, but it is a likely assumption. No doubt they brought other clothing and such with each visit, but this particular robe is mentioned along with the ephod. For the gift of their firstborn, Eli the priest would bless the couple every year they came to sacrifice with the blessing of more covenant children (v. 20). “And the LORD visited Hannah, so that she conceived and bore three sons and two daughters. Meanwhile the child Samuel grew before the LORD.” (v. 21)

I Samuel 2:12-17 The Worthless And Wicked Priests.

I Samuel 2:12-17 The Worthless And Wicked Priests.

Eli’s sons are a classic example of how it is possible that even ordained religious leadership can be completely devoid of any personal knowledge of God. Furthermore ethics flows from this tree of knowledge or lack thereof. Eli’s sons were corrupt because they did not know the covenant making and covenant keeping LORD (v. 12). This not knowing the LORD is what we might say in our current vernacular as them not having a personal relationship with the LORD. This was sadly the same condition that existed with the death of Joshua (Cf. Jud. 2:10).

To this end we must also remember that any such personal knowledge can only be possible if we are first known by him. That is, he has set his personal redeeming love upon us (Cf. Gal. 4:9; I Jn. 4:10). “If anyone loves God, this one is known by Him.” (I Cor. 8:3) This knowledge of the LORD, based on being known by him, shows itself in the love we return to him, including living our lives according to the law-word of the covenant (Cf. I Jn. 2:3-6). This is what it means to “walk just as He walked.” What follows is the facts of their open and flagrant apostasy.

Verses 13-15 describes what was strictly forbidden according to the law-word of the covenant (Cf. Lev. 3:1-17; 7:28-36; Dt. 18:3). The priests were to be given specific parts, and fat was not one of them. By behaving as they did, these priests were also corrupting the people, a mark of false prophets as well (Cf. Dt. 13). The reciprocal evidence of not being known by God, is in people choosing to not retain the knowledge of Him, the evidence of a “debased mind” (Rom. 1:28). Even when rebuked by the laity, they threatened to take the offering by force (v. 16).

Jeremiah would be called to oppose the same kind of people in his day. Those who handled the law did not know the LORD (2:8 Cf. 9:3, 6). These leaders chose not to know the LORD, through their own deceit. Malachi, the last of the older testament prophets, summarized the state of apostate priests. “‘For the lips of a priest should keep knowledge, and people should seek the law from his mouth, for he is the messenger of the LORD of hosts. But you have departed from the way; you have caused many to stumble at the law. You have corrupted the covenant of Levi,’ says the LORD of hosts.” (2:7-8)

I Samuel 2:1-11 Hannah’s Prayer.

I Samuel 2:1-11 Hannah’s Prayer.

Salvation is cause for rejoicing, and it includes far more than assurance of life eternal. For Hannah it includes the blessing of covenant children, new citizens for the kingdom (v. 1). The LORD is unique, the only true and living God, holy and sure (v. 2). He is the all-knowing one, and as such is the only grounds for true knowledge. With his holy character and knowledge, he alone is able to judge people and nations (v. 3). As the  sovereign LORD over all he brings down the arrogant and raises the humble (v. 4), and with him those who have children become feeble, and the barren like Hannah become the mothers of seven (v. 5).

The sovereign LORD is the God who effects great reversals, including killing and making alive (vv. 6-7). With him poor beggars “inherit the throne of glory” (v. 8a). Nothing and no one in all the created order can stand against the LORD and his saints. This is his world, upheld by his sovereign will, power, and purpose, “but the wicked shall be silent in darkness (vv. 8b-9b). Thunder from heaven separates glory from darkness. The LORD will judge all, and he has his King, the Anointed One, whom he has exalted (vv. 9c-10).* Of this kingdom there are children like Samuel, “who ministered to the LORD” (v. 11).

*“References to the king as the LORD’s anointed are prevalent in the books of Samuel (v. 35; 12:3, 5; 16:6; 24:6) and Psalms (Ps. 2:2; 18:50. The present passage is the first reference to a king of Israel as God’s “anointed,’ though the idea of anointing a king is found already in Jotham’s fable (Judg. 9:8, 15).The English word “messiah” represents the Hebrew word meaning ‘anointed.” In the New Testament, “Christ” represents the Greek word Christos, also meaning “anointed.”” (NGSB 379)

I Samuel 1:19-28 Samuel Is Born And Dedicated.

I Samuel 1:19-28 Samuel Is Born And Dedicated.

Elkanah never stopped loving Hannah. They worshipped together, and they loved each other, and once Hannah had dedicated their firstborn son, “Elkanah knew Hannah his wife, and the LORD remembered her” (v. 19). Hannah would call her firstborn son Samuel because the LORD heard her vow and prayer (v. 20). However, she may not have understood how significant would be the hearing of Samuel from God. Elkanah faithfully would take up his family to offer the yearly sacrifice, but this time Hannah would stay behind with Samuel until he was weaned, then she would take him to serve the LORD forever (vv. 21-22). This gives us a good example where, once a child was weaned, it was understood that they would partake in the sacrificial meal, and for Samuel much more than that (Cf. Gen. 21:8). Although it must be remembered that an infant was likely weaned much longer than is done in most cultures today, still they were very young.

Elkanah agreed with his wife’s decision, with his only desire being that the LORD’s word would be confirmed. It is not clear if this meant that he wanted to make sure the vow was fulfilled, that Samuel would serve the LORD forever, or perhaps with what might follow the fulfilling of the vow (Cf. Nu. 30:7, 10-11). In any case, when he was weaned they made the trip with Samuel. Their offering of verse 25 was that which the law prescribed for the fulfilling of a vow (Cf. Num. 15:1ff.), and the tabernacle had been established at Shiloh (Josh. 18:1). “According to Num. 15:8-10, the fulfillment of a vow was to be accompanied by an offering of a young bull, fine flour, and wine. Hannah brings all three, but in larger measure than required.” (NGSB 378) Samuel was then presented as their gift to the LORD, to Eli the high priest, to serve the LORD. They worshipped the LORD there, and the LORD had a servant who was not one of Eli’s sons.

I Samuel 1:1-18 Hannah.

I Samuel

I Samuel 1:1-18 Hannah.

Elkanah, Hannah’s husband, had two wives. This bit of information shows that the covenant LORD does in fact work in situations which are not perfectly patterned after his ideal, which from creation was one man and one woman (Gen. 1-2). As the example of the priests, Eli and his sons, shows that there were many far more in rebellion against the LORD. Elkanah was a man who regularly went to worship the LORD as he prescribed, along with his family. Elkanah loved Hannah, but for whatever reason, “the LORD had closed her womb” (v. 6).

Rather than having sympathy for Hannah’s childless condition, Peninnah, his other wife, provoked Hannah constantly, therefore Hannah “wept and did not eat” (v. 7). Elkanah pleaded with Hannah to turn from her grief, but she continued to pray in anguish before the LORD (vv. 8-10). In the midst of this anguish she vowed to dedicate her firstborn son to the LORD to serve him all his life, and this little man was Samuel. As the high priest, Eli added his blessing (v. 17). Then Hannah

Matthew 21:18-22 Kingdom Transfer.

Matthew 21:18-22 Kingdom Transfer.

What Mark separates by a day, with the clearing of the temple in between  (11:12-26), Matthew here groups together. This highlights two basic differences between the two. It is thought that Mark sought to write a strict chronological order, whereas Matthew was more thematic in his approach. “In Matt. 21:12-22, Jesus proceeds to cleanse the temple upon His arrival and curses the fig tree the next day. In Mark, Jesus returns to Bethany for the night, in the morning He curses the fig tree and then cleanses the temple. Probably Matthew treats the material topically (no specific reference for the cleansing is given in Matt. 21:12), while Mark, who places stories within stories (5:21-43; 6:7-30), treats it chronologically.” (NGSB 1585) Matthew condenses an incident that took place on two separate days (cf. Mark 11:12-14, 20-26).” (NGSB 1540)

The main point is this: “The linking of this incident with the cleansing of the temple hints at God’s immanent punishment of Israel in the destruction of the city and the temple (Jer. 24:1-8).” (NGSB 1540-1) A fig tree’s purpose is to obviously bear fruit. This was also to be the purpose of the LORD planting Israel in his land to bear fruit. Since Israel had not bore fruit the kingdom would be given to others. Mountains in the scriptures often refer to kingdoms, and it is more likely that Jesus is referring to mountains being moved through prayer in respect to a changing of the guard. Prayer must however be combined with belief, which necessitates a knowledge of the scriptures and God’s plans for the future. When our prayers are in harmony with God’s plans for his kingdom, we are promised success.

Matthew 21:12-17 Jesus Transforms The Temple.

Matthew 21:12-17 Jesus Transforms The Temple.

The temple, meant to be a house of prayer, became a den of thieves. These seized upon the need of the people to have a sacrifice to offer, but likely for an exorbitant price (vv. 12-13 Cf. Mk. 11:15-18; Lk. 19:45-47; Jn. 2:13-16; Dt. 14:24-25). This exchange of goods by those too far away to bring an actual tithe or offering of the fruits of one’s labour, was to take place at the market, and not in the temple precincts. Jesus entrance into the temple would fulfill the prophetic word of the last of the prophets, Malachi (3:1). Jesus is the Lord and Messenger of the covenant, sent by the LORD of hosts. For this cause John also records how the disciples were reminded of the words of Psalm 69:9, that zeal for the LORD’s house would consume him (Jn. 2:17).

Instead of being a house of merchandise, Jesus transformed it into a house of healing, for the blind and lame came to him and he healed them (v. 14). Again, the children cry out to Jesus, referring to him as “the Son of David” (v. 15). This continued the Hosannas of his triumphal entry (21:1-11), in fulfillment of the words of Psalm 118:26 (v. 9). The chief priests and scribes were indignant or angry at the sound of the children, but as Jesus said, this also happened as the scriptures predicted, and in making this point he was claiming divinity (v. 16; Ps. 8:2 Cf. Mt. 11:25). This entrance of Jesus into the temple is a momentous turning point in salvation history. This would be the start of a move away from this temple, to the true temple which is Jesus himself, a point stressed by John above.

Matthew 21:1-11 The Triumphal Entry.

Matthew 21:1-11 The Triumphal Entry.

Jesus, the twelve, and other of his disciples, have been on a journey to Jerusalem, seen especially in the incidents when Jesus reiterates his coming death and resurrection (16:21-23; 17:22-23; 20:17-19). On this occasion they are at Bethphage,* at the Mount of Olives, when Jesus sent two disciples ahead of them to bring to Jesus a donkey, and a colt with her (vv. 1-2 Cf. Mk. 11:1-10; Lk. 19:29-38). The standing on the Mount of Olives comes in fulfillment of the day of the LORD when “His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, which faces Jerusalem on the east” (Zech. 14:4). “And in that day it shall be that living waters shall flow from Jerusalem” (v. 8).

These two disciples were told that if anyone were to question them way taking the donkey and colt, that they were to inform them that ‘The Lord has need of them’, upon which the one holding them would let them go (v. 3).** This event was done to further the prophetic fulfillment concerning Jesus as the Messiah (v. 4), Matthew here quoting from Zechariah 9:9. Zechariah again makes the point that it was at this time that this just King would bring salvation and “His dominion shall be from sea to sea, and from the River to the ends of the earth” (v. 10 Cf. Isaiah 40:9-11; 62:11; Jn. 12:15). This reign is the time of salvation, not of second coming judgment!

“The disciples went and did as Jesus commanded them” (v. 6 Cf. Mk. 11:4-6). The people responded to the entrance of Jesus into Jerusalem on the donkey and colt, as the entrance of the long awaited King, the Son to succeed David (vv. 7-9a Cf. Lev. 23:40; I Kgs. 9:13). This also was in fulfillment of prophecy, namely Psalm 118:26 (v. 9b).*** Others asked who Jesus was (v. 10). “So the multitudes said, ‘This is Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth of Galilee” (v. 11). Clearly, at this point, they regarded Jesus as both Prophet and King (Cf. 2:23; 16:15; Dt. 18:15-18; Lk. 4:16-29; Jn. 6:14; 7:40; 9:17; Acts 3:22-23).

*”Hebrew for “house of unripe figs,” a small village east of Jerusalem.” (NGSB 1584)

**”Colt. A young donkey (Matt. 21:2; John 12:15). The Old Testament prophesied Jesus’ actions (Zech. 9:9), which in this case identify Him clearly as the Messiah. Zechariah prophesied the coming of a righteous and gentle King to bring salvation.” (NGSB 1584)

***”Hosanna. A Greek transliteration of the Aramaic words for “Save now…O LORD” (Ps. 118:25).” (NGSB 1584)

Matthew 20:29-34 Blind Men See And Follow Jesus.

Matthew 20:29-34 Blind Men See And Follow Jesus.

All three gospels record this visit to Jericho (v. 29 Cf. Mk. 10:46-52; Lk. 18:35-43). The New Geneva Study Bible posits that there may have been two Jerichos, but it seems to may too much of whether the incident happened as they were entering it or going out, when it seems that they were simply passing through.* It was a city of palm trees near the Jordan, that was made famous by its defeat by the Israelites under Joshua (Nu. 22:1; Dt. 34:3; II Chr. 28:15; Joshua 6). It was later rebuilt by Hiel with his firstborn and youngest sons (I Kgs. 16:34), just as Joshua had prophesied (6:26), and in doing so was covenantally cursed.

Unlike the other two gospels, Matthew mentions two blind men. It is likely that Mark and Luke simply focused on the one who took the lead, one “Bartimaeus, son of Timaeus” (Mk. 10:46). Interestingly, the knowledge that it was Jesus of Nazareth (Mt. 2:23; Lk. 2:39-51; 4:16-30; Jn. 1:46), led them to refer to Jesus as “the Son of David” seeking his mercy for their healing (Mk. 10:47; Lk. 18:37-38).** Jesus was called a Nazarene (Mt. 2:23), and his followers as Nazarenes (Acts 24:5). The important thing to note is that people connected Nazareth to Bethlehem and the prediction that the Messiah would come as David’s son from there (Jn. 7:42).

Ironically,  this same passage in John records how the apostate religious leadership nevertheless rejected the authority of Jesus saying to Jesus, “Are you also from Galilee? Search and look, for no prophet has arisen out of Galilee” (v. 52). Evidently they forgot the words recorded at Isaiah 9 of the Great Light arising in Galilee, of a Son who would be called, among other things, ‘Mighty God’, who would sit “upon the throne of David and over his kingdom” (vv. 6-7)!  In any case, Jesus did have compassion on these men, and out of mercy granted their request to receive their sight (vv. 32-33). And immediately their eyes received sight, and they followed Him” (v. 34).

*“Luke implies Jesus was entering Jericho, whereas Matthew and Mark say the incident occurred as they “went out” of Jericho (Matt. 20:30; Mark 10:46). There seem to have been two “Jerichos” about a mile apart: the ruins of the Old Testament city conquered by Joshua (Josh. 6), and a city built by Herod the Great. The encounter may have happened as Jesus was leaving the old city and entering the new.” (1641)

**”Son of David. A popular messianic title Mk. 10:47; 11:10; 12:35) drawn from the Old Testament (Is. 11:1-3; Jer. 23:5, 6; Ezek. 34:23, 24).” (NGSB 1584)